Cyber security is a big deal, so it’s promising that the government puts it high on the agenda alongside the Government Digital Service’s mission to take Whitehall from monolithic legacy IT systems to cross-government digital services.
Cabinet Officer Matt Hancock reinforced the government’s message that it takes UK cyber security seriously during a trade mission to Israel, a growing hotbed of security technology startups.
The minister took the opportunity to highlight the government's £1.9m allocation for cyber security development last November.
He also hammered home the government’s plans to create a National Cyber Centre to combine public and private sector expertise to fight cyber attacks and share intelligence on threats.
“Cyber security is a shared responsibility. It requires the engagement of the whole of society. When it comes to protecting our critical national infrastructure, the importance of partnerships between government and industry is particularly important. It will be critical in joining the secret and public-facing worlds together,” he said.
But Hancock also revealed the government’s ambition to create a cyber security ecosystem fed by startups from the UK and around the world, hinting at possible partnerships with Israel’s startup scene despite the country’s somewhat controversial standing in international politics.
“We will establish cyber innovation centres to support early-stage companies to commercialise their products. I look to the Israeli model as an exemplary precedent,” said Hancock, noting the government's £165m fund for investing in the next generation of cyber security companies.
The government will also cosy up to Israel by entering into an academic agreement that will see experts from the two nations working together on cyber/physical security, which involves looking at threats to digital and physical infrastructure.
This new frontier of cyber security is particularly pertinent as it will involve finding ways to protect the Internet of Things, which is growing at a rapid rate as ‘dumb’ devices are replaced with 'smart' systems.
Cyber attacks are part of modern warfare and a tool of terrorists and criminals, so it is promising that the government is investing in the area.
It could be argued that Downing Street is late to the game in some ways, but partnerships with other nations with similar expertise means that the UK will at least have a fighting chance in the digital battlefields of the future.
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